Now that summer has arrived, there is no doubt that most of your electric bills will double, and in some cases, triple, your normal rate. And because of that, many of you will be late paying your bills. And unfortunately, con-artists will try to take advantage of your misfortune.
At some point during the summer, you may receive a call from someone claiming to be from your utility company. They will tell you that if you don’t pay your bill on the phone with them right then, they will shut off your power. And considering how hot summers have been over the past decade, that’s the last you want to happen.
So now you feel pressured into paying but the question is, is the person on the phone who they say they are? Here are some factors that may lead you to believe you are dealing with a legitimate rep:
- You really ARE late paying your utility bill.
- The person on the phone knows your account number.
- The person on the phone knows your address.
- The person on the phone knows the amount due.
- The number they are calling from (according to caller ID) is very similar to your utility company’s. For example, it may be one digit off.
Now let’s think about how you would normally pay your bill. Most of us pay in one the following ways:
- Physically mail in a payment.
- Pay online.
- Pay via automatic draft.
- Pay over the phone using an automated system.
- Pay at an authorized payment partner like AMSCOT.
When you are attempting to be scammed, the caller will ask for a form of payment other than the ones listed above. Scammers are notorious for requiring you to pay via prepaid card. And even more important, they demand payment the very same day.
The primary goal of the caller is to get you flustered. They want you to make a quick and panic-induced decision. They may even ask for more personal information including your social security number.
So the question is, what do you do in these situations? The answer is simple. Simply hang up the phone and call your utility company on the correct toll-free number. The bottom line is that most, if not all utility companies don’t try to strong-arm their customers. They won’t call demanding payment with threats. And they won’t ask for payment information over the phone.
We know what you’re thinking. In most cases, once you are behind on paying your bill the last thing you want to do is call the company. You don’t need to be reminded that you owe them money. But here’s the best way to look at this situation. Would you rather pay the scammer, lost that money and then STILL owe the utility company?
On top of that, you should let the company know that the scammer had access to your information such as your account number, service address and amount due. This information would certainly lead to an investigation launched on your behalf.
At the end of the day, it is always better to be safe than sorry.